photo of ruth edmonds

Cultural Researcher and Ethnographer


Contexts of work


United Kingdom









Areas of Specialisation

Peer research
Participatory research
Applied cultural research
Research design
Research training and facilitation
Research ethics


Children and youth at risk
Gender equality and social inclusion
Health and well-being

photo of ruth edmonds

Ruth Edmonds

I believe in the power of local knowledge. It is only by suspending our own assumptions about people, places and problems that we can be guided by ‘local ways of seeing’. Ultimately, it is this local knowledge which enables the design of grounded solutions that are more relevant, meaningful and impactful in the lives of those they aim to serve.

Ruth is cultural researcher and ethnographer with nearly 20 years experience of designing and managing research programmes to understand complex social development challenges and support positive social change in international settings. She has a particular interest in using ethnographic principles and approaches and collaborative methodologies, such as participatory and peer led research methods, to help organisations working in humanitarian and development sectors to better understand the local contexts in which they work, or want to work. She is an expert in designing and leading research, especially where diverse local contexts are involved and where methodological approaches need to be rooted in local concepts and understandings, drawing on highly contextual and decolonized approaches.

Ruth has worked internationally for community-based organisations, NGOs and social enterprises, international NGOs, national governments, the United Nations and private sector trusts and foundations. Her career began in West Africa and she has since worked extensively in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Asia and the UK. Ruth holds a PhD in Development Geography and is an Associate Researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

Ruth’s interest in working with Sonder comes from a desire to leverage deep understanding about cultural systems in diverse international contexts to inform design processes and solutions. She also shares Sonder’s passion for collaborative and cross-disciplinary working.

Interested in working with us for a better future?